Former Exec Gets Five Years for Embezzlement

A former finance systems manager for construction firm PBS&J was also ordered to pay $9.5 million in restitution for participating in a $36 million scheme.

The third former employee to be sentenced for her role in a $36 million embezzlement scheme at construction company PBS&J will serve up to 63 months in federal prison.

Maria Garcia, a former finance systems manager at the company, had pleaded guilty to charges she participated in the scheme with two colleagues, including the former CFO, last September. Along with the prison term of more than five years, she was ordered to $9.5 million in restitution to the company, according to the Associated Press.

Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King gave Garcia a slightly shorter sentence than the 66 months requested by prosecutors. Still, Garcia’s lawyers had asked him to sentence her to only home confinement because she disclosed the embezzlement to investigators and told them about possible campaign finance irregularities involving others at the company, the AP pointed out.

In the end, however, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Silverstein said Garcia didn’t provide ”substantial assistance” in the government’s investigation into illegal campaign contributions, according to the Miami Herald.

”Based on her massive cooperation, the sentence imposed was plainly excessive and undervalued the nature and extent of the cooperation that the judge acknowledged,” Benson Weintraub, one of Garcia’s lawyers, said after the sentencing, according to the newspaper. “I think her cooperation was trivialized by the court and the government.”

Two weeks ago, former PBS&J CFO W. Scott DeLoach and Rosario Licato, a former manager, were sentenced in connection with their role in the embezzlement. Like Garcia, both former executives had pleaded guilty to charges they had helped embezzle more than $35 million from PBS&J Corp. from 1992 to 2005, according to an announcement from R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. DeLoach also pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions.

As a result, DeLoach was sentenced to 97 months in federal prison. He also received a two-year sentence, to run concurrently, for pleading guilty to using ”strawmen” to illegally contribute $11,000 to the 2004 campaign of Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Florida), according to the Miami Herald. Licata was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

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